Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

the action proper to take in regard to the course pursued by the executive.

The joint committee of the council and house of representatives, to which was referred the following joint resolution:

Resolved, by the council and house of representatives, that the report of the joint committee appointed to wait upon his excellency, the governor, and inform him that the two houses were organized pro tempore, and ready to receive any communication he might have to make to them, be referred to a joint committee, consisting of three members of each house, to report whether there is any valid objection to the legislative assembly holding its annual session at this time; whether it is expedient to adjourn the session of said legislative assembly to some other day; whether the legislative assembly ought io take any, and if any, what action, expressive of their views relative to the course pursued by the executive, as exhibited in said report; and generally, to report as they may think the circumstances of the case may require, in relation to the said report of the said joint committee;"

Respectfully report:

That the report of the committee referred to them, is as follows

“ That the committee had discharged the duty assigned them, and that the governor informed the committee, that, 'not conceiving that the legislative assembly had authority by law to meet at the present time, he had no communication to make to them."

Under the above resolution, your committee are required to report

Jst. Whether there is any valid objection to the legislative assembly holding its session at this time.

2d. Whether it is expedient to adjourn the session of said legislature to some future day.

3d. Whether the legislative assembly ought to take any, and if any, what action, expressive of their views relative to the course pursued by the executive, as exhibited in said report; and

4th. Generally to report, as they may think the circumstances of the case may require, in relation to the report of the said joint committee.

Your committee, in the examination of the several subjects

which have been referred to them, have deemed it their duty from the great importance of these subjects, to give them a patient and dispassionate investigation, in the course of which, the laws of congress, and of the territory, connected with the main question before them, have been attentively referred to and considered.

Your committee will proceed to express their views in the order in which they are sought by the resolution.

Ist. Is there any valid objection to the legislative assembly holding its session at this time?

Your committee suppose that by the spirit of this inquiry, is meant, whether there is any law of congress or of this territory, which would prevent the holding of a session of the legislature at this time, or would render invalid or nugatory any law which it might pass.

The law of congress, organizing the territory, provides that "the time, place and manner of holding and conducting all elections by the people, and the apportionment of the representatives in the several counties, to the council and house of representatives, according to the population, shall be prescribed by law, as well as the day of the annual commencement of the session of said legislative assembly.”—(Organic act, sec. 4.) Accordingly, the legislative assembly have a prescribed by law” that “the regular session of the legislative assembly shall commence on the first Monday of December, in each and every year.”—(Revised Statutes, page 157.)

In pursuance of that law, the members of the council and house of representatives, did meet in their respective halls, at the capitol, on the first Monday of December, 1842, and commenced the session of the legislative assembly, hy organizing their respective houses in the usual manner. In conformity to the long established usage, they adopted a joint resolution appointing a committee to wait upon the governor and inform him of the organization of the two houses, and that they were ready to receive any communication he might have to make to them. To this customary message of courtesy to a co-ordinate branch of the legislature, the governor made the following reply: "Not conceiving that the legislative assembly had authority by law to meet at the present time, he had no communication to make to them."

He refuses to make any communication to the legislature, because, he says he conceives they have no authority to meet at the present time. Why the legislature has not a right to meet at the present time, he has not thought proper to inform them, and your committee cannot, from any reason by him assigned, determine, whether it is because the "present time" is not the proper time, or whether it is because the members of the legislature are not legally elected as such. The governor, no doubt, with some object in view, has seen fit to withhold from the legislature and the pub. lic, his reasons for so extraordinary a course of conduct. And as your committee can imagine no other, they have presumed, that if the legislative assembly has not the authority by law to meet at the present time, the only reason is the one that rumor and the public press have assigned, viz: that in a law passed at the last session of congress occurs the following paragraph: “No session of the legislature of a territory shall be held, until the appropriation for its expenses shall have been made.” Your committee have been unable to discover any other law, either of congress or of the territory, which will furnish any ground of excuse for the singular conclusion of the governor; but aware that a like opinion has obtained to some extent out of doors, your committee will proceed, as well as they are able, in the short time allotted to them, to expose the fallacy of such an opinion.

The act of congress “ making appropriations for the civil and diplomatic expenses of the government for the year 1842,” approved May 18, 1842, contains the usual appropriation for the payment of the expenses of the annual session of the legislative assembly of the territory of Wisconsin. The amount thus appropriated is $20,000. If any doubt exists as to the intention of congress in regard to the application of this appropriation, it will be removed by a mere examination of the several acts of congress which have been passed since the organization of our territory, making appropriations to defray the expenses of our legislature.

The title of the act last referred to is in itself convincing proof to your committee, that the amount appropriated was for the express purpose of defraying the expenses of the session which we are now holding; but to remove all doubt, the committee will briefly refer to the several appropriations made by congress for defraying the expenses of the legislature of this territory.

The appropriation for the first session of the legislative assembly, which was held in the fall of 1836, was but nine thousand dollars, the estimate being predicated upon the usual expenses of the territorial legislature of Michigan, a body of but thirteen members. To meet the deficiency caused by this inadequate appropriation, congress by the act of 3d of March, 1837, appropriated the further sum of $15,765 16 "for the payment of arrearages” due for the expenses of the first legislative assembly. By the same act was appropriated the further sum of $36,765 for the expenses of the second session of the first legislative assembly. By the act of 6th April, 1838, $25,000 were appropriated for the first session, and by the act of 3d March, 1839, $25,000 for the second session of the second legislative assembly. The act of the 8th May, 1840, appropriated $34,075 for the first session, and the act of 3d March, 1841, $20,000 for the second session of the legislative assembly. And the act of 18th May, 1842, appropriates $20,000 for the expenses of the present, being the first session of the fourth legislative assembly.

If it be supposed that the $20,000 last appropriated, were intended to meet the payment of “arrearages," created by a deficiency in the appropriation of previous sessions of the legislature, the impression will be removed by reference to another part of the same act, making an appropriation "for the arrearages and expenses for the legislative assembly of the territory of Iowa.” An appropriation for a similar purpose for Wisconsin, would have been expressed in like words. That territory was similarly situated with Wisconsin, the expenses of the legislature exceeding the amount of the appropriations, but the exact amount of the arrearages of the expenses of that territory being known, a definite sum was appropriated for their discharge. A portion of the arrearages of expenses of Wisconsin, consisting of disputed items, and the amount not being ascertained, no definite sum could be appropriated. It was attempted when the act making appropriations for the civil and diplomatic expenses of the government for the year 1842 (in which the above appropriation of $20,000 is included) was before the house of representatives, to appropriate the further sum of $24,000 to cover the arrearages of expenses of our legislature, for previous years, but their extent not being

known, as we have above stated, the last item was omitted, the chairman of the committee of ways and means declaring his intention of introducing a bill for the purpose of providing for the payment of such arrearages as were chargeable to the treasury of the United States. Accordingly, on the 29th day of August last, congress passed a law, "for the settlement of certain accounts for the support of the government of the territory of Wisconsin."

By this law, no definite sum was appropriated, but the accounting officers of the Treasury Department were directed to audit and settle those accounts. By the act of 18th May, 1842, the sum of $27,125 was appropriated to defray the expenses of the legislative council of the territory of Florida, and by the act of 29th August, the accounts and arrearages of expenses of that territory were directed to be audited and settled, in the same manner as those of the territory of Wisconsin.

Yet, so far as has come to the knowledge of your committee, no doubt has ever been entertained in either of the territories of Iowa or Florida, but that their legislatures have an undoubted right to hold their annual session without any further act or appropriation by congress. By reference to that part of the act of 18th May, making appropriations for the territory of Iowa, it will be seen that no part of the sum appropriated for arrearages shall be used for any other purpose, than for the payment of those arrearages. Now if, as it is possible the governor may suppose, the $20,000 last appropriated, was "for arrearages of expenses," why was it not limited and restricted to that specific object, as was done in the appropriation for Iowa ?

No money shall be drawn from the treasury of the United States, but in consequence of appropriations made by law, and in such law must be expressed the precise nature and object of such appropriation. And your committee believe since the organization of the government, no instance can be found, where congress has made an appropriation for arrearages of expenses in any branch or department of the government, unless it be so expressed in the law making such appropriation. Had such been the object of the appropriation, now in question, your committee cannot but think it would have been so expressed..

The mere fact that congress has every year since the organiza

« AnteriorContinuar »